Pasco man pleads guilty to strangling ex-girlfriend

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldNovember 8, 2011 

A West Richland woman Monday told the man who killed her daughter and unborn granddaughter that she no longer hates him, but still questions how he could hurt a girl who did nothing but love him.

Christina Sullivan faced Kurtis Robert Chapman in Franklin County Superior Court and described how her life ended when he took away her only daughter.

"My life had one meaning -- my daughter and my grandchildren. Now that is gone forever. She is gone," she said. "You are still alive and in this world. How could you take Shenay's life the way you did? You had so many options. ... instead you chose to take her life."

Chapman, 23, admitted Monday to strangling his ex-girlfriend, Shenay Greenough, 19, on May 8, 2010, and hiding her body under his father's home in Pasco. Greenough's nearly full-term daughter, Kyana, also died.

Greenough's body was found two days later. Chapman was arrested the following day in Pendleton.

Chapman received a 24-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, both with domestic violence allegations. He agreed to a plea deal that reduced the charge for Kyana's death from first-degree manslaughter.

Prosecutor Shawn Sant filed new court documents Monday that provided more details about what happened the day Greenough was killed.

Chapman told Pasco police detectives after his arrest that he had choked Greenough at his father's home, and said that after she stopped breathing, he tried to perform CPR.

Chapman said he knew Greenough and the baby "would be messed up" because of the amount of time that had gone by without her breathing. He said he didn't want her to come back to a life messed up, so he tied a cord around her neck to make sure she wouldn't come back to life, documents said.

Sullivan was emotional as she sat in a packed courtroom and listened to five of Greenough's friends tell Judge Craig Matheson how their life was affected when Greenough was killed. Three other friends wrote letters to the court, but did not read them aloud.

When it was her time to speak, Sullivan was in tears as she walked up to address the judge but managed to get through her statement without crying. She asked Chapman if he understood what his actions have done to Greenough's now 3-year-old son Ayden, who doesn't understand what happened to his mother or why she never came home.

She also said she hoped that someday when Chapman is free, he will remember that Greenough never can be free and never get a second chance.

"I have gone through so many different emotions. I, in the beginning, hated you and couldn't believe you took my daughter. But as time goes on, I don't know, I have such a huge heart. I actually feel sorry for you," Sullivan said. "I'm so sorry you chose what you did because you also lost your life, or most of it. Don't just think I'm sitting here ... screaming at you because you took my daughter's life. I am hurting, but I also feel for you and I want you to know that."

Defense attorneys Matt Rutt and Bob Thompson told Judge Matheson that their client was sorry for his actions and explained that there was no good answer to explain what happened. Rutt said Chapman heavily used methamphetamine, which destroyed his ability to form proper judgments.

"Crystal meth does things people can't control or even understand," Thompson told the Herald after court.

Chapman, who also had several supporters in court, wrote a statement to the judge but had Thompson read it in court. He said when he was 10 years old, he had dreams of being someone who would make a positive impact on his family and friends, but then "crystal meth turned those dreams into a nightmare."

He said Monday's plea was about accountability, and added that if he could change places with Greenough and Kyana, he would in a heartbeat.

"No amount of apologies could ever bring them back, even though I wish they could," Chapman wrote. "Christina, I just ask that you try to accept my apology. ... You don't have to forgive me, just know that I am truly, truly sorry."

Sant told Matheson that it was a fair resolution to the case, given some of the legal issues that have been presented by the defense. Chapman's attorneys had tried twice to get his case dismissed by saying their client's constitutional rights were violated when a Pasco police detective listened to a recorded jail phone call between Chapman and Rutt.

Matheson denied the motions, saying the mistake was a good-faith error, but the defense had appealed his ruling. A request to the state Court of Appeals to review the decision still was pending when the plea deal was reached last week.

Chapman's guilty plea ends his appeal.

Before sentencing Chapman, Matheson said meth is a "scourge and a problem for us, but it's not an excuse." He added that he hoped this case will be a lesson to others to control their bodies and what they put in them.

"I would suggest that you make the most of your time. While it is a long sentence, it will pass and one day you will rejoin society. You need to decide today what you will look like when you come out," Matheson told Chapman. "It's not easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle in prison. ... You need to live up to the apologies and statements you made here in court today."

After court, Chapman's father told the Herald that his condolences go out to all of Greenough's friends and family.

"I hope everyone can all heal with this. I'm truly very sorry for everyone's loss. It's been a heartache for me from day one too. Maybe I can try to heal a little better," Robert Chapman said. "She'll never be back ... but she will always be remembered."

-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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